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Guide to ILAC Technique

LAWS1100 Business Law
ILAC GUIDELINES: Answering Problem Questions
This is a guide for students to follow in using the ILAC structure of answering problem
As you will learn, ILAC means: Issue, Law, Application and Conclusion.
We teach you how to use the ILAC structure in preparing answers to problem questions in
Business Law – the advantage of the ILAC system is that it teaches students during the
Semester how to effectively apply legal principles to the facts of a problem question in a
more consistent and comprehensive manner.
It is recommended that you use ILAC during the Semester in your Tutorial submissions in
order to teach yourself to apply relevant laws to the facts of problem questions.
Overview of the ILAC Structure
There are four stages to correctly answer legal problem questions using the ILAC method:
1. Identifying the legal ISSUE involved in the problem. Issues are the questions which
need to be resolved or answered. Please do not waste time rewriting the facts of the
question in this section. Identify an issue and write it down. The issue is usually a short,
one sentence question.
2. Identifying the relevant LAW. This section is about identifying the most important and
relevant laws and any supporting case authorities. The law section usually consists of
legal principles, case authorities, legislation and (if necessary) case discussion.
3. APPLICATION (arguably the most important part). Applying those laws to the facts of
the problem so as to answer the question raised in the issue. This requires you to
explain why those laws would assist or not assist each of the parties, to analyse both
sides of the problem and to argue each party’s arguments and defences. Remember
that there is not always 1 obviously correct answer to a question. Weighing up the
different sides and arguments in each case is a very important component.
4. Reaching a CONCLUSION. This requires you to answer the issue and state which party
you think has the stronger argument and what remedy they will obtain from the courts.
Usually the conclusion will be a one sentence answer, answering your issue.
Before You Start Writing
When looking at a problem question, read the question carefully. It is a good idea that
for tutorial work, instead of just reading the question online, it might be better if you
either print it off or write it down on paper first because:
This enables students to actively read the question one time without having to
go back and waste time by re-reading the question;
As students read the question, they can use a pen to identify:
The relevant parties involved;
Any relevant areas of law;
Any important facts.
It also helps students to read the instructions to the question carefully. Refer
back to the question and see what it is that you have been asked to do and
make sure you do that;
If the question asks you to advise one party – then not only would you advise
that party but you need to consider the possible defences or counter arguments
of the other parties;
If the question asks you to advise all parties then advise all parties – again
considering all of the possible arguments and defences;
If the question directs you to specifically provide answers based on specific
issues/concepts, laws or case authorities FIRST before considering other
issues/concepts, laws or case authorities;
These are all handy skills that you can develop in your tutorial submissions and
which could then assist you when reading problem questions in the Final Exam
or answering the ILAC Problem Scenario.
Consider what area of law might apply. It is possible for a problem question to contain
more than one area of law – but make sure it is relevant to the question.
Consider what cases support the law? Remember to cite relevant case law.
Be prepared to write about each of the parties in a problem question:
Explain how those laws or cases support their argument or position;
Explain how those laws or cases may weaken their argument or position.
The ILAC Structure – Step by Step
To demonstrate the ILAC method, I have provided you with a short pretend hypothetical
problem question as an example.
It is an example to help you understand each of the steps of ILAC and to think
about the ILAC technique – so although the example is a Torts question, this
technique could be adapted to any area of law whether that be in Contract,
Competition law, Intellectual Property law, etc.
The example given is not an indication of all possible issues or answers in
any similar Tutorial problems or assessments.
This example is not a comprehensive example of how to do a Torts question
– and it only gives one applied example of one of the stages/tests for a Torts
Please make sure you go through all of the stages/tests for a Torts question
in your tutorials.
Example Question:
Olivia is a business woman who wants to own and manage a florist shop, a retail business
selling flowers to customers in the Brisbane central business district. She has spent the
last month getting carpenters and builders to fit out (design and build the interior of the
shop with floors, walls, counters and equipment) her florist shop and it is due to open in
about 3 days.
She suddenly remembers that she needs to buy some lightbulbs to fit in the lightbulb fittings
in her store to illuminate the shop, so she decides to go to a hardware store to buy
fluorescent tube lights. She works out that she will need 20 of these lights and that she will
install each of them in the light fittings which are already installed in the roof of her shop.
She goes to a hardware store, selects 20 fluorescent tube lights from the range of
fluorescent tube be lights on display and takes them to the counter to purchase them.
While she is at the counter, the hardware store employee behind the counter says to her:
“You could install these yourself, but you should ask an electrician whether these tubes
are suitable for the roof fittings you are using them in. Sometimes the fittings can overload
the tube if the tube is the wrong one for that fitting”.
When Olivia gets back to the shop, she telephones the electrician she had used a week
before to install the wiring in the shop, to see if he can come out before the shop open to
install the light tubes. However, he is busy with other jobs and won’t be able to do this until
one week after the shops opening.
Olivia then decides to install them herself and plans to get the electrician to check them
one week after opening. The tube lights fit into the light fittings and when Olivia turns them
on and off again they seem to work with no visible problems.
Three days later on the shop’s opening day, a customer named Zara is walking around the
florists and happens to be standing under one of the fluorescent tube lights. The tube light
starts emitting smoke and then suddenly explodes, showering Zara with hot glass that
burns the hair in patches on Zaras head, causes minor but multiple cuts on Zara’s head
and which narrowly miss getting in Zara’s eyes.
Olivia then telephones another electrician from an online business directory who arrives
that same day to find out what happened, He discovers that the explosion was caused
because the tube light that Olivia installed was the wrong tube light for that fitting – this
caused the tube light to overheat after 2-3 hours of use and explode.
Zara wants damages for her medical costs and emotional trauma – can she bring an action
against Olivia for the tort of negligence?
Step 1 - ISSUE - Identify the Issue:
Identify the issues that need to be addressed in the problem question;
Ask yourself – what is the major problem/question/issue between the parties which
needs to be answered in the problem question?
A good issue consists of posing the issue as a question – including some facts from
the problem question (such as the names of the parties). An issue is posed as a
question with a question mark (?) at the end of it.
So using the technique, here are just some examples of issue sentences showing
how the technique is applied:
“Did Olivia (Name of Party/Fact) owe Zara (Name of Party/Fact) a duty of care
(Legal Issue) and breach that duty which caused Zara’s injury (Legal Issue)?
“Will Olivia (Name of Party/Fact) be liable to Zara (Name of Party/Fact) for the
tort of negligence (Legal Issue) for failing to have the tube lights properly
installed by an electrician (Fact)?
Do you think there are any more relevant issues?
It is your responsibility to identify how many issues a problem question has and to
identify relevant issues. However, do not write issues that are not relevant to the
question. In addition, it is advisable not to write too many issue sentences – students
cannot simply write 10 issue sentences and think that this by itself will gain marks. At
the most try and keep them limited to 1-2 issue sentences in tutorial submissions
during the Semester.
Please Note:
Sometimes students re-write the facts of the question for paragraphs and paragraphs
in this section – that is not an issue – that is just re-writing the facts. Please do not do
this – you receive no marks for doing this and it wastes valuable time.
Step 2 - Law - Identify the Most Important / Relevant Laws:
Consider what laws might apply.
It is possible for a problem question to contain more than one area of law – but it has
to be important/relevant to the problem question;
If you had all the time in the world, you could probably identify 10 to 20 laws that might
apply to a problem question – however, can you narrow those laws to the MOST
important and relevant laws for the parties? This is what you have to achieve,
particularly given the time constraints of Final Exam;
Are there any cases that support these laws? Sometimes you are taught laws that
are not supported by any cases, in which case there is no need to cite cases – but
often you are taught laws supported or established by cases, in which case you
should cite the case supporting or which developed that law;
It is acceptable to cite a case by using the first name of the first party and the first
name of the second party. For example:
“Australian Safeway Stores Pty Ltd v Zaluzna (1987) 162 CLR 479” – can simply
be written as “Australian Safeway v Zaluzna”;
“Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock Engineering Co Ltd [1961] AC 388”
– can simply be written as “Overseas Tankships v Mort”.
Good law section technique provides short statements of relevant laws supported by
case authority and/or legislation that relates to the “issue”;
So using the example, here are some relevant laws showing how the technique is
applied using the same pretend hypothetical problem question:
An occupier of premises owes a duty of care to ensure the premises is safe to all entrants
(Australian Safeways v Zaluzna);
S9 of the CLA states that for a breach to occur, the risk was foreseeable, not insignificant,
and a reasonable person would have taken precautions taking into account the probability
of harm (Bolton v Stone), the likely seriousness of the harm (Case that supports); the
burden of taking precautions (Case that supports); the social utility of the defendant’s
activity (Case that supports);
S11 CLA identifies causation. he defendant is only responsible for the harm if there was
factual causation and if the actual harm a reasonable foreseeable consequence (Case that
Defences include: S23 - Contributory Negligence. If the plaintiff contributed in some way
to their own loss or injury, liability will be apportioned.
Do you think there are any more relevant laws?
This is a very basic outline of the laws that may be involved in this question. It is your
responsibility to identify how many laws a problem question has and to choose which
relevant laws you will address in the application section;
Please Note:
You must exercise your judgment based on your study and analysis as to the most
important/relevant laws to the problem question;
There is no need to re-write the facts of cases cited in the Law section;
Please do not simply write a giant list of laws and provide no or minimal application –
just listing off laws in an open book final exam will not gain many marks;
Show us how you apply those laws to the facts in the Application section where you
need to devote the majority of your time – see below;
Step 3 - APPLICATION - Apply the relevant laws to the facts:
Good application technique occurs when you demonstrate why laws apply or do not
apply to the facts of the problem question;
This is HIGHY IMPORTANT because it demonstrates to a marker whether or not you
understand the laws and concepts that you have been taught. Think about it this way,
if you just tell a judge in your submission what the relevant issues and laws will be –
but you do not actually apply or present any argument to the judge as to how those
issues and laws support your client’s case – how successful do you think you will be?
It is also not enough to just state laws and then the relevant facts without explaining
if and why those laws applies or do not apply to those facts. Your ability to
analyse/apply the laws is highly important.
As a guide, a good application paragraph consist of writing about a key fact from the
question, followed by applying a relevant law from the law section to those facts to
construct an argument. You then support that with a relevant case authority; and at
some point tell the marker which argument you think is stronger if there are competing
arguments between the parties;
Note: You don’t have to follow this procedure exactly – the more you practice
application technique over time the more you will develop your own style of
application that suits you. So long as most of these elements are present, then there
is a good chance that you will construct a good application paragraph;
So using the same pretend hypothetical question, here is a rough example showing
how the technique is applied just using the first of the laws from the Law section:
“Occupiers are persons who have control and power over premises and who
owe a duty of care to all entrants to ensure that premises is safe (Australian v
Safeway). On the facts, Olivia owns and runs the florist store, which means she
has the power and control over what occurs and what does not occur on the
premises, such as deciding whether to get an electrician to install the tube
fittings or not. This control makes her the occupier of the shop and she
automatically owes a duty to Zara as an entrant to make sure the premises are
It is advisable that each law/stage/test gets its own paragraph, setting out the
law in greater detail and applying it to the facts one by one.
So here are the following law/stage/tests for this example – try to apply each of them to the
facts in the Application section as part of your learning ILAC Technique:
“Olivia breached her duty of care to Zara. Firstly, Olivia either knew or ought
reasonably to have known the risk was forseeable because on the facts here …
(apply to the facts).
Secondly, the risk was not insignificant because … (apply to the facts).
Thirdly, a reasonable person would have taken the precaution of getting an
electrician to install them given that:
There was a high probability of harm resulting from installing the light bulbs
herself because on the facts … (apply to the facts);
There was a likely seriousness of harm resulting from incorrectly installed tube
lights because on the facts … (apply to the facts);
The burden of taking precautions was low because on the facts … (apply to
the facts);
There is no social utility here because on the facts … (apply to the facts)”.
“The harm Zara suffered was caused by Olivia’s breach and was reasonably foreseeable
But for Olivia’s failure to get an electrician to install the tube lights, Zara would
not have suffered her injuries because… (apply to the facts);
It was within the scope of liability and it was reasonably foreseeable that a
tube light not installed by an electrician might be dangerous to customers
because… (apply to the facts)”.
“Olivia will not have the defence of contributory negligence because… (apply to the facts)”
The overall thing to keep in mind for good application technique is to consider and write
about all the strong arguments in favour of each party and all the weak arguments that go
against each party’s argument. That way, you can then weigh up the strengths of each
party’s position and you have a better chance of coming to a more thorough and wellreasoned conclusion and deducting which of the parties have the strongest argument.
Step 4 - CONCLUSION - Give your opinion as to which party has the stronger
argument based on your Application
A good way to begin your conclusion is by stating that “On the balance of
probabilities”. This is because most of the topics you study in Business Law will be
civil matters which requires a Court to weigh up the strongest case, based on each
party’s arguments.
A good ILAC conclusion simply answers the unanswered question(s) in the Issue
section and also states the remedies that might be available to a successful party.
For example using the same pretend hypothetical question:
“On the balance of probabilities a court would most likely decide that the stronger
argument is that Olivia did owe a duty of care to Zara which she breached, resulting
in Zara suffering her injuries. Olivia will not have any defences and Zara will be
entitled to damages”.
Please note: Do not reference any new laws or arguments in the conclusion that were
not already listed and applied in the law and application section.
Good luck with your ILAC technique.
Provided you submit and revise regularly, you should reach a stage whereby you are able
to produce a high quality ILAC answer for problem questions in Tutorials, the ILAC Problem
Scenario and the Final Exam.
Best Wishes, Tim.